Among Trees

Produced and Directed by Vivia Font and Ben Steinfeld

July 15, 2021

Program

An evening of music and writings celebrating nature in front of the Veblen House at the Herrontown Woods.

Click the expandable fields to access more information about the local artists.

"Holding On" by Beth Myers and Monica Mugan. Performed by Damsel

About the artist: Damsel doesn’t apologize. The Indie Neo Folk duo integrates their background as classical chamber musicians with folk music leanings to create an intricate instrumental sound around tight vocal harmonies. The singing-songwriting team is Monica Mugan on vocals/acoustic guitar and Beth Meyers on vocals/viola/banjo/ukulele. Damsel’s debut album “Just Sit So” is available on iTunes and cdbaby. Their sophomore album, “New To You” will drop this Fall.

"The Roots" by Anna Achampong. Performed by Katharine Powell Roman

About the artist: Anna Achampong has taught second grade for three years at Riverside Elementary School, right here in Princeton. She will teach fifth grade starting this Fall. Besides writing poetry, some of her other interests include singing/song writing, beat producing, and roller skating. Anna is a passionate educator and creator who hopes to encourage people to love who they are, honor where they come from, and believe in their ability to achieve anything.

"A Mountain" by Raj Subrahmanyam. Performed by Vivia Font

About the artist: Raj Subrahmanyam is a 9-year old and rising 5th grader who attends Riverside Elementary School in Princeton. He enjoys playing soccer, tennis, track, and playing with his friends and younger brother. He also learns piano and clarinet and likes reading and writing. He is thankful to his 4th grade teacher, Ms Gita Varadarajan who inspired him to write poetry!

"How to Thank a Leaf?" by Stephen Hiltner. Performed by Ben Steinfeld

About the artist: As president of Friends of Herrontown Woods, Steve is thrilled to be hosting "Among Trees." Steve can best be described as a jazz naturalist--a polymath who has founded two environmental nonprofits and writes about nature at PrincetonNatureNotes.org, while also playing sax and clarinet, both with his own all-originals group, Sustainable Jazz, and with the Lunar Octet, whose recording "Convergence" is now getting international reviews and airplay. A member of the McCarter Theater-based Onstage Seniors since 2012, Steve has written and performed original theatrical sketches about climate change, turning Carbon, CO2, Earth and a Car into characters (videos at ClimateCabaret.com).

"To the Earth" by Frederic Rzewski. Performed by Mika Godbole

"Walking at Dawn" by Lewis Maltby. Performed by Vivia Font

About the artist: Lewis Maltby has an unusual background for a poet. He’s been a truck driver, factory worker, trial lawyer, corporate executive and even a logger. He got into poetry in a chance encounter in a bar. Lew’s poems are rooted in these experiences. Echo Company is about being mesmerized by tracer bullets over his head crawling through an obstacle course at night as a young soldier. Mr. PD is about flirting with contempt of court protecting working class clients from the so-called criminal justice system. Lew’s book Smiling Axes was published by Kelsay Publishers in 2019.

"Noisy Bugs" by Emily Gutierrez. Performed by Ben Steinfeld

About the artist: Emily Gutierrez is an NJ native and recent resident of Princeton, NJ. She is currently working as an architectural designer in Trenton.

"Moving from Blue to Green" by Kitta MacPherson. Performed by Katharine Powell Roman

About the artist: Award-winning science writer Kitta MacPherson has worked at daily newspapers and at Princeton University, as its senior writer and then as director of communications at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. During her career as a journalist, mostly with The Star-Ledger of Newark, she reported on numerous breakthroughs. MacPherson has won recognition for her work from the National Association of Science Writers and the IEEE. Her fiction and essays have appeared in outlets such as The Copperfield Review and Medium, and been featured on public radio WPVM’s The Dirty Spoon Radio Hour. These days, when she’s not writing or tending to her rose garden, she’s teaching journalism at Rutgers University and St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark.

"When I am Among the Trees" by Mary Oliver. Performed by Ben Steinfeld

"Den Nachtegael" (The Nightingale) by Jacob van Eyck. Performed by John Burkhalter

"Correspondence" by Elizabeth Medina. Performed by Vivia Font and Katharine Powell Roman

About the artist: Elizabeth Medina is a rising Sophomore at Princeton University who adores learning about all things engineering; she holds a special place in her heart for computer science, however, and is rather interested in quantum computing and artificial intelligence. When she's not on her laptop coding, Elizabeth enjoys stargazing, baking cookies with her family, playing the ukulele, and making digital art. She loves to wonder at the world and seek out its lessons, whether they come from the realm of science, the realm of human emotion, or (her favorite) the wondrous combination of the two.

"Belief" by Michael Griffith. Performed by Ben Steinfeld

About the artist: Michael A. Griffith teaches at Raritan Valley and Mercer County Community Colleges in central NJ. He is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, Bloodline, Exposed, and New Paths to Eden. Mike is a board member of the Delaware Valley Poets/US 1 Poets and facilitates poetry workshops through the Princeton Public Library’s Writer’s Room series. Themes which recur in Mike’s poems are family, nature, politics, romance, and the limits of both memory and language. Poetry helps us understand the roles humans play in all these and their roles in humans’ lives.

"The Sycamore" by Diane Uniman. Performed by Katharine Powell Roman

About the artist: Diane Uniman aka author Princess Diane von Brainisfried is a criminal appeals attorney-turned writer of screenplays and musicals which have won over 50 awards, including Beverly Hills Film Festival, Toronto Independent Awards, and Garden State Film Festival. Her book, Bonjour, Breast Cancer–I’m Still Smiling…Wit, Wisdom and Optimism for Beating the Breast Cancer Blues won the Independent Author Network Medal for Best Non-Fiction. She is also a certified positive psychology life coach, speaker, and corporate consultant for employee happiness & wellbeing. Her tongue-in-chic happiness lifestyle blog can be found at www.PrincessDianevonBrainisfried.com. Screenplays and musicals info can be found at www.HarMaxiProductions.com.

"Compost" by Kathryn Weidener. Performed by Vivia Font

About the artist: Kathryn Weidener’s NJ ancestry can be traced back to at least 1850. She claims her lineage from Sussex Co dirt farmers through urban & suburban Hudson, Bergen, Union to Somerset gardeners. She has summered in Ocean, now lives in Mercer and can talk in Route numbers with the best of ya! This is The Garden State where we grow relationships as well as the best tomatoes.

"Wild Mountain Thyme", traditional. Performed by Fiona Tyndall

"Woodland" by Anne Hiltner. Performed by Vivia Font

About the artist: Anne Hiltner reads high school and college essays for ETS during the year. She enjoys classical music, swimming, and writing poetry and novels. A member of US 1 Poets and Hamilton Writers she is currently writing a Young Adult novel set in Maine called The Rocky Ledge Summer.

"Mighty Small" by Claire Gmachl. Performed by Ben Steinfeld

About the artist: Claire Gmachl is a twenty-five year NJ resident, eighteen of those in the Princeton area. She enjoys nature walks and gardening. Hailing originally from an alpine country and having climbed many tall mountains, yet she fell in love New Jersey’s curated gardens and arboretums. She teaches in engineering at Princeton University.

"Birches" by Robert Frost. Performed by Katharine Powell Roman

"Being Among Trees" by Pamela Scheiman. Performed by Vivia Font

"Dancing Among the Trees" by Fiona Tyndall

About the artist: Fiona originally hails from County Clare, Ireland. Her deep love of traditional Irish music resulted in her first album, Deirin De, which blended traditional lyrics with innovative arrangements. It received favorable reviews and Fiona regularly performs this style. When Fiona and her young family moved to Boston, she embarked on a new venture of jazz with some talented top class musicians and produced Moonglow. Her musical interests have further expanded since living in the Princeton NJ area. Fiona sang big band with The Funkin' Soulnuts, has performed at varied events as lead singer of Rock group, Uncle Albert, and she demonstrates her versatility in her treatment of Burt Bacharach classics. Fiona performs regularly at Cafe Improv in Princeton, and was voted Best of Cafe Improv 2017. Fiona also performs at the Folk project in Morristown and at Einstein Alley Musicians Collaborative.

"Undergrowth" by Kathryn Weidener. Performed by Katharine Powell Roman

About the artist: Kathryn Weidener’s NJ ancestry can be traced back to at least 1850. She claims her lineage from Sussex Co dirt farmers through urban & suburban Hudson, Bergen, Union to Somerset gardeners. She has summered in Ocean, now lives in Mercer and can talk in Route numbers with the best of ya! This is The Garden State where we grow relationships as well as the best tomatoes.

"The Little Flower" by Olivia Kim. Performed by Ben Steinfeld

About the artist: Olivia Kim lives in Princeton with her mom, dad and two younger sisters. She uses poetry to look at the world through a different lens. Besides writing, she enjoys baking, playing lacrosse and tennis, and also swimming. Her favorite food is cookies and cream ice cream! (If that's considered food). She particularly likes writing poetry and realistic fiction but she loves reading fantasy! A fun fact about her is that her amazing teacher this year, Gita Varadarajan, is a writer, so she really helped Olivia see poetry and write poetry in a way that she had never discovered. Olivia has been looking forward to this celebration and she is so excited to be part of it!

"The Tree is Still Here, in Pure Stone" by Pablo Neruda. Performed by Vivia Font

"Trailblazer" by Judith McNally. Performed by Katharine Powell Roman and Ben Steinfeld

About the artist: Judith McNally's first novel, Jigsaw, was published by Macmillan, and her one-man play, Birdland, was optioned by The New Federal Theatre, NYC. Her book of short dialogues, CHOPPING WITHOUT CHOPPING, is available from Amazon. She is the recipient of a top priority NJ State Council on the Arts Prose Fellowship, and is retired from teaching Creative Writing at CUNY, Princeton Adult School and Mercer County Community College (adults).

"Wildflowers" by Tom Petty. Performed by Damsel

About the artist: Damsel doesn’t apologize. The Indie Neo Folk duo integrates their background as classical chamber musicians with folk music leanings to create an intricate instrumental sound around tight vocal harmonies. The singing-songwriting team is Monica Mugan on vocals/acoustic guitar and Beth Meyers on vocals/viola/banjo/ukulele. Damsel’s debut album “Just Sit So” is available on iTunes and cdbaby. Their sophomore album, “New To You” will drop this Fall.

Performers

Click the expandable fields to access more information about this evening's performers.

Damsel

Damsel doesn’t apologize. The Indie Neo Folk duo integrates their background as classical chamber musicians with folk music leanings to create an intricate instrumental sound around tight vocal harmonies. The singing-songwriting team is Monica Mugan on vocals/acoustic guitar and Beth Meyers on vocals/viola/banjo/ukulele. Damsel’s debut album “Just Sit So” is available on iTunes and cdbaby. Their sophomore album, “New To You” will drop this Fall.

Katharine Powell Roman

Katharine Powell Roman is an actor and psychotherapist. Her recent artistic home is Arden Theater Company in Philadelphia, where in January 2022 she will play Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. Past Arden performances include A Doll’s House, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Three Sisters (Barrymore Award nomination). Broadway: The Farnsworth Invention by Aaron Sorkin. Off-Broadway: Warrior Class, Election Day, The Water’s Edge (all at Second Stage Theater), After The Revolution, (Playwrights Horizons), The Voysey Inheritance (Atlantic Theater Company), and Smashing (Play Company). Katharine has performed at regional theaters throughout the country including Yale Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theater, American Conservatory Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference, New York Stage and Film, and MCC Theater. Film: Happythankyoumoreplease, A Girl In The Park, Game of Life, The Baxter. TV: Guiding Light, Out Of Practice, Without A Trace (CBS). She has recorded the audiobooks We Are All Good People Here and A Place At The Table by Susan Rebecca White and Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen. Education: NYU’s Graduate Acting Program, MFA; Bryn Mawr’s Graduate School of Social Work, MSS; Brown University, BA.

Vivia Font

Vivia Font is an actress, theater collaborator, educator, and alumni teenage loiterer of the PPL, McCarter, and Princeton. NY and regional credits include PlayOn! at Classic Stage Company, villa (Guillermo Calderón) and Recent Alien Abductions (Jorge Luis Cortiñas) with the Play Company, bilingual play underneathmybed (Florencia Lozano) at the Rattlestick, Romeo & Juliet with NY Classical. She has also worked with the Public Theatre, Vineyard, Atlantic, LABrynth, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (2 seasons), The Old Globe, Cincinnati Playhouse, McCarter and others on both new and classical work. Recent TV/Film: For Life, “Love, Repeat.” She has collaborated with fellow Latiné artists on brand new work including (but not limited to) Tanya Saracho (VIDA-STARZ) The Tenth Muse, Song for the Disappeared, Octavio Solis Se llama Cristina, Mother Road, Karen Zacarías Mariela in the Desert, Native Gardens, & more. Vivia has worked in interactive and applied theatre, having over 15 yrs experience performing with Only Make Believe in NYC, and having worked with Creative Arts Team and other nonprofits committed to educating and expanding the lives of youth and the community through theater. She has directed regionally and in NYC- both classical and new work, and wrote and directed a pilot, as well as a solo theater piece Pearl Sings the Blues. Vivia is a lecturer at Princeton University, Playwright’s Horizons at NYU, and Marymount Manhattan College. She is an Associate Artist at NY Classical, and a member of the Actors Center. BFA: Tisch-NYU, MFA: The Old Globe.

Ben Steinfeld

Ben Steinfeld is an actor, director, writer, musician, and adjunct professor and artistic associate at NYU Gallatin. He is also co-artistic director of the acclaimed Fiasco Theater. As an actor, Steinfeld has been seen on Broadway in the Roundabout Theatre Companys revival of Cyrano de Bergerac and as James Monroe in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. His Off-Broadway acting and directing work for Fiasco includes: his Lucille Lortel-nominated performance as the Baker in Into the Woods at the Roundabout Theatre (Lortel Award for Best Revival, premiered at McCarter in 2013!); Cymbeline at Theatre for a New Audience and the Barrow Street Theatre (Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Revival); Measure for Measure at the New Victory Theatre (New York Timess Top Ten of 2014), The Two Gentlemen of Verona at TFANA and Folger Theatre (Helen Hayes nomination for Best Direction), Twelfth Night at Classic Stage Company, and Merrily We Roll Along at the Roundabout. In the summer of 2016, he made his London acting and directing debut with Fiascos Into the Woods at the Menier Chocolate Factory, and he received the LA Drama Critics Circle award for co-directing the recent national tour of Into the Woods. His television and film acting work includes HBOs Muhammad Alis Greatest Fight, Callahan, “The Deuce”, “The Good Wife”, and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”. Steinfeld co-authored an essay for Living With Shakespeare (Random House, 2013) and wrote the book for the original musical Diamond Alice, with a score by Alexander Gemignani. In the spring of 2017, he was a guest lecturer at Princeton University, and he delivered the inaugural Michael Armstrong Memorial Lecture at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. He has narrated several young peoples concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. He is a graduate of Brown University and the Brown/Trinity MFA Program. www.fiascotheater.com

Mika Godbole

Malavika, or Mika, Godbole is known for her enthusiastic support of new music, emerging composers, and her flair as a performer. She has premiered several works as a founding member of the groundbreaking quartet Mobius Percussion. Her freelance activities include performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony, Delaware Symphony, Bay Atlantic Symphony, Maryland Symphony Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony, and Lancaster Symphony as well as a recent appointment as Principal Timpani of the Bay Atlantic Symphony. Recent accolades include a Grammy nomination for Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer with The Crossing and winning the 2016 Bessie Award with Dan Trueman, Mobius Percussion, and So Percussion for Outstanding Musical Composition/Sound Design. Upcoming projects include the fourth year Princeton, NJ’s new music marathon, aptly titled Unruly Sounds and premieres of new works with Mobius Percussion by Emma O’Halloran, Gemma Peacocke, Annika Socolofsky, and Wally Gunn. She has also been involved in summer music programs such as the Aspen Music Festival, So Percussion Summer Institute, the Artosphere Festival, and the China International Summer Music Academy. She has collaborated with conductors and artists such as Sir Simon Rattle, Michael Tilson Thomas, Charles Dutoit, Martha Argerich, Yefim Bronfman, Christoph Eschenbach, James DePriest, David Robertson, and James Conlon. As a pedagogue, she maintains an active studio of thirty students at various levels of ability at the Westminster Conservatory and at Rowan University (as Adjunct Faculty).

John Burkhalter

John Burkhalter studied the performance of early music at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston under Daniel Pinkham and the performance of Baroque music at Harvard University under Dutch recorder virtuoso, scholar and conductor Frans Brüggen. He also received instruction from the distinguished Swiss Baroque oboist and recorder virtuoso Michel Piguet. Mr. Burkhalter performs with The Practitioners of Musick, Le Triomphe de lamour, Brandywine Baroque, Early Music Princeton, Riverview Consort, and Les Agréments de musique. He regularly plays in various English Country Dance Bands in association, most notably, with the Germantown Colonial Assembly of Philadelphia and at New York Citys 92nd Street Y. He has also played period instruments” in world premieres of new music by Peter Schickele, David Van Tiegham, and Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade. Mr. Burkhalter has lectured and performed at numerous international conferences and festivals including the Fund for Irish Studies at Princeton University, The American Handel Society, “The Revival of Early Music Conference” held at the Horniman Museum in London, The Princeton Festival, and the Boston Early Music Festival 2021 series of Fringe Concerts”. He co-authored with musicologist Nicholas Lockey Changing Tastes and Social Harmony in Eighteenth-Century England: New Light on the Baring Keyboard Manuscript” for the Chronicle of The Princeton University Library. When he is not lecturing or performing, Mr. Burkhalter is the Subscription Manager for Princeton University Concerts.

Fiona Tyndall

Fiona originally hails from County Clare, Ireland. Her deep love of traditional Irish music resulted in her first album, Deirin De, which blended traditional lyrics with innovative arrangements. It received favorable reviews and Fiona regularly performs this style. When Fiona and her young family moved to Boston, she embarked on a new venture of jazz with some talented top class musicians and produced Moonglow. Her musical interests have further expanded since living in the Princeton NJ area. Fiona sang big band with The Funkin' Soulnuts, has performed at varied events as lead singer of Rock group, Uncle Albert, and she demonstrates her versatility in her treatment of Burt Bacharach classics. Fiona performs regularly at Cafe Improv in Princeton, and was voted Best of Cafe Improv 2017. Fiona also performs at the Folk project in Morristown and at Einstein Alley Musicians Collaborative.

Special Thanks

The producers wish to thank all of the musicians and performers who have generously donated their time and talents: Steve Hiltner and the Friends of Herrontown Woods; Janie Hermann and the team at Princeton Public Library; Small World Coffee; Jane Cox & the Lewis Center for the Arts (PU); Sami Kahn and Council on Science and Technology (PU).